Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Content Marketing Really Matters

Content marketing has become an essential marketing tactic for many B2B companies. According to research by Junta42 and MarketingProfs, nine out of ten B2B companies now market with content.

Content marketing is the practice of providing valuable and primarily non-promotional information to potential buyers for the purpose of persuading them to begin or continue a relationship with your company. The basic idea of content marketing is to provide information that will demonstrate your company's expertise and create or nurture the perception that your company would be a knowledgeable, capable, and reliable business partner.

Most marketing thought leaders agree that effective marketing content is critical for B2B marketing success.  Marketing content provides the fuel for lead generation and lead nurturing programs, it is a critical component of a company's website, and it plays a central role in social media marketing efforts.

All B2B companies can benefit to some extent from using content marketing, but it is more critical for some kinds of companies than others.  There are six circumstances that make content marketing particularly important and highly valuable.
  • When the product or service you provide is complex (technologically or otherwise), or when the product or service addresses a complex business problem, issue, or challenge.
  • When purchasing your product or service requires a substantial financial investment by the buyer.
  • When the buyer must rely on your expertise to achieve success with your product or service.
  • When the purchase and use of your product or service requires the buyer to make significant changes in its business processes.
  • When the purchase of your product or service requires (formally or practically) a long-term commitment by the buyer.
  • When the product or service you offer is not purchased frequently, and potential buyers have little or no experience with the type of product or service you provide.
The connection between content marketing and the first circumstance is obvious. When potential buyers are trying to address a complex problem or challenge or evaluate a complex product or service, they need a lot of information to help them understand the ramifications of the problem or challenge, how the product or service works, and what benefits the product or service will provide.  Content marketing is the most effective way to provide prospects the needed information.

The other five circumstances all relate to the buyer's perception of risk. We now know that fear is the most powerful emotion at work in the B2B buying process.  Business buyers can be extremely risk averse, and they aren't likely to move forward with a purchase until the perceived risks have been eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level.  Content marketing is a highly effective tool for mitigating the risks perceived by your potential buyers.  For example:
  • White papers, articles, and webinars can be used to demonstrate that your company understands the issues and problems your buyers are facing and knows how those issues or problems can be successfully addressed.
  • Customer case studies can be used to show how similar businesses have used your product or service to solve difficult problems and/or reach significant business objectives.
  • Value justification tools and ROI calculators can be used to quantify and prove the value of your product or service.
If some or all of these six circumstances apply to your company and your marketing and sales environment, content marketing should be at the core of your marketing efforts.

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